Changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program won’t detract from its usefulness to specialty crop exporters, industry leaders believe.

The Foreign Agriculture Service announced changes to the export promotion program and said the new regulations should streamline application procedures and project evaluation, according to a news release.

“At first reading, it (appears)to be a fairly positive reaffirmation of the program and its operations,” said Kam Quarles, director of legislative affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based McDermott Will & Emery law firm.

Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., said he didn’t see any dramatic changes in the regulation.

“We’ve waited for a long time to get new regulations,” Moffitt said.

The USDA said the final rule, effective May 17, carries out changes in the program first proposed in 2009.

Quarles said the industry remains focused on securing full funding of $200 million for the MAP program in the 2012 farm bill and to lobby for adequate USDA FAS staffing in the U.S.